Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady (1950) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

June Haver and Gordon MacRae star in THE DAUGHTER OF ROSIE O'GRADY, available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

My records show that I saw this on TV as a teenager "back in the day," but I can't say I remembered anything about that viewing, other than a vague memory of Debbie Reynolds being in it. Seeing it now was thus almost the equivalent of watching the film for the first time! Indeed, I'm fairly certain that I hadn't seen some of the scenes before, given that the movie would have been edited to fit commercials into its time slot.

Dennis O'Grady (James Barton), a widowed former vaudevillian, works on a streetcar and has raised three daughters: Patricia (Haver), who has musical talent like her late mother (also Haver, in photos and a flashback); Katie (Marcia Mae Jones, billed here as Marsha), who is secretly married to policeman James Moore (Sean McClory), just back from the Spanish-American War; and young Maureen (Debbie Reynolds, in her second film).

Patricia meets and falls in love with musical performer Tony Pastor (MacRae) but conceals his profession from her father, who has turned his back on the theatrical business. After her angry father learns the truth, Patricia moves in with family friends (S.Z. Sakall and Irene Seidner) and supports herself performing on stage with Tony and his colleague Doug Martin (Gene Nelson). The other girls move out as well.

Christmas arrives and the girls and their father are missing each other... Can this family be reunited while true love conquers all? What do you think?

It's a colorful and congenial film, with an appealing cast of attractive young players. The three leads, Haver, MacRae, and Nelson, all have the opportunity to perform several numbers, and the fast-footed dances teaming Haver and Nelson are a particular treat. The relationships are only superficially developed, but the high-spirited musical entertainment more than makes up for it.

Haver also looks almost impossibly beautiful, with her blonde hair and rosy cheeks. She was a delightful musical star, and I only wish she had made more films.

I've always been fond of former child actress Marcia Mae Jones, seen here to the right of Haver, so it was very nice to see her in a good-sized adult role as one of the sisters, and I also enjoyed McClory (THE QUIET MAN) as her secret husband. The 17-year-old Reynolds, of course, is cute as a button and great fun to watch.

I liked everything about the film with the exception of James Barton's overbearing father, who receives way too much screen time. He seeks to controls his daughters' lives much as Thomas Mitchell did in an older Warner Bros. film, THREE CHEERS FOR THE IRISH (1940); in fact, some of this film's plot is vaguely reminiscent of what Priscilla Lane's character experienced in that older film, secretly marrying a policeman and being thrown out of the house. THE DAUGHTER OF ROSIE O'GRADY divided that storyline among multiple characters.

Barton, who played the grandfather in the excellent Western YELLOW SKY (1948), isn't a particularly appealing performer in this; the movie could easily have shed ten minutes of his scenes and clocked in at a less cumbersome running time than its 104 minutes.

The movie was directed by David Butler, who headed numerous WB musicals of the era. It was filmed in Technicolor by Wilfrid M. Cline.

This release dates back to the second year of the Warner Archive, and at some point the original plain blue cover, which was used on all of the earliest Archive releases, was replaced with the colorful case art seen at the top of this post. The print is quite attractive; the color did strike me as somewhat subdued, but that might have been simply the Warner Bros. style. The sound quality is excellent.

The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger barrylane said...

The cast and production were in place for something much better, but no one can make this nonsensical scenario work. Not Jame Barton's fault, a terrific actor who should have not accepted the part. No one can play it.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I would watch it again with the ability to go fast forward through some of Barton's more overbearing moments. I am fond of David Butler's nostalgia-tinged movies and this deserves a place among his best.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

i think the basic premise was okay but they should have greatly reduced Barton's role and beefed up the romantic relationships. There's so much likeable about the film, it's a shame they didn't invest more time in the script.

Best wishes,

4:36 PM  

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